Newark, NJ - March 17, 2010 - Cory A. Booker, Central Ward Council Member Charles Bell, Police Director Garry F. McCarthy, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino, Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura, and other Newark and law enforcement dignitaries held a press conference today at the Garden Spires Housing Complex at 175-195 First Street, to announce the details and successes of today’s police raids on suspected drug dealers at the complex, dubbed “Operation Justice,” which netted 34 arrests today, and 150 arrests overall for the six-month program.
Shortly after 4 a.m. this morning, more than 120 Newark Police officers from the Department’s Gang Enforcement and Central Narcotics Bureau, the Emergency Services Unit, and the New Jersey State Police executed 70 arrest and three search warrants, arresting 34 persons, as part of a six-month long investigation at the complex targeting several key players involved in the narcotics trade.
“This is a major drug market elimination, and the residents have endured way too much,” said Mayor Booker. “This is a very personal community to me. This problem has not existed just for the last year, but years ago when I was a Council Member, we did a 10-day hunger strike here to protest the violence, and so many people came out from across the City to protest the violence, that we were successful in reducing the drug trade, but we were not able to follow up at that time. Now, we will have the police here for a very long time. I’m very encouraged by the result and the success, not just here, but across the City, where we have reduced gun violence by 50 percent, and we will bring strength and security here to Garden Spires, and continue to make Newark a stronger, safer, and prouder City.”
During the six-month long investigation, Newark police conducted nearly three dozen undercover operations and executed eight search warrants. The result was 150 arrests, seven firearms recovered, more than $25,000 worth of illegal narcotics and $14,000 in cash confiscated as drug proceeds.
“This is about eliminating a narcotics market. Narcotics is the vehicle that drives violent crime in this City,” said Director McCarthy. “Today’s operation is the culmination of many months of difficult and dangerous undercover operations and intelligence gathering that has enabled us to surgically target and remove key players involved in the drug trade here in Newark, specifically the Garden Spires Housing Complex. Through the hard work and dedication of our Gang Enforcement and Central Narcotics Bureau today, we will return this housing development back to the decent law-abiding citizens who were previously held captive by the criminal element that once thrived here. I congratulate the officers on a job well done and extend an invitation to the residents to partner with us as we maintain a visible presence here and work to restore and improve the quality of life here for the residents of the Garden Spires Housing Complex.”
“What took place here at Garden Spires is a small step in the right direction,” said Council Member Bell. “What has to happen now is that the residents must step to the plate and take back this complex, building by building, and floor by floor. The situation is very positive now. We must organize and mobilize the residents of Garden Spires so they can take control of their community.”
He added that his office kept a “hot sheet” of information from Spires residents on illegal activities in the buildings, which were turned over to police. “They responded to that. It’s a very effective tool, which we use throughout the Central Ward,” he said. “The Police Department and the Director’s Office have responded to each and every piece of information we have submitted.”
The Garden Spires Housing Complex was the site of four shooting incidents and three murders in 2009. As part of the Newark Police Department’s continued efforts to prevent and reduce violent crime, citywide members of the Gang and Central Narcotics Bureau have toppled one of the City’s most problematic drug markets.
“Today’s arrests are the result of an on-going and determined public safety initiative for our community. Gangs, guns and drugs are a real threat to the safety and well being of our neighbors and our neighborhoods. The Newark Police Department is to be commended for spearheading this important and successful assault on violent criminal activity,” said Sheriff Fontoura. “I remember standing here 11 years ago with Mayor Booker on this corner to fight for this corner. But that time, after we finished, we left. We didn’t stay here, and the drug dealers came back. So it brings a smile to my face when I hear Director McCarthy say ‘We’re going to stay here.’ It will show that the good work of the Mayor, the Council, and the Police Director will continue. And to all of the clientele that came here on a regular basis from the suburbs and as far as Pennsylvania, be forewarned, this is not a good place to cop drugs, you too will be targeted, and you will face the possibility of arrest.”
The Newark Police Department’s Gang Enforcement/Central Narcotics Bureau, through the execution of more than 60 search warrants and 355 undercover operations has made more than 1,000 arrests, classified more than 180 gang members, recovered 35 firearms, confiscated six vehicles, recovered more than $64,000 in cash and nearly $100,000 worth of illegal narcotics this year alone.
Under the Booker Administration, the City of Newark has formed several new partnerships and launched numerous new initiatives and policing strategies. Since 2006, the Newark Police Foundation has raised thousands of dollars in philanthropic donations to support the purchase and deployment of new crime-fighting technology, including the deployment of more than one hundred wireless video surveillance cameras, a sonic gunshot detection system, a new state-of-the-art emergency services vehicle and the operation of the City’s “Crime Stopper” and “Gun Stopper” anonymous tip lines. Since the anonymous tip lines began, police have received more the 3000 calls and paid out more than $61,000 in reward money resulting in more than 200 arrests, the recovery of 78 guns, and the confiscation of more than $235,000 worth of illegal narcotics.
Anyone with information about any crime in Newark is urged to call the Department’s 24-hour “Crime Stoppers” anonymous tip line at 877 NWK-TIPS (877 695-8477) or 877 NWK-GUNS (877 695-4867). Tips leading to arrests and indictments could result in cash rewards of up to $2,000 to the person who provides the information or $1,000 per gun for calls into the gun hot line.
Residents with any questions about municipal services can contact the Non-Emergency Call Center at (973) 733-4311 Mondays through Fridays, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.